President Barack Obama said Friday that he has not yet decided what action, if any, will be taken by the United States military against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
Following a Friday afternoon press conference in which Secretary of State John Kerry said Pres. Assad’s regime used chemical gas last week to kill more than 1,000 Syrian civilians, Obama said he has yet to decide how the US will respond.
“The world has an obligation to make sure that we maintain the law against the use of chemical weapons,” Obama said from the White House’s oval office. “I have not made a final decision about the various actions that might be taken to help us enforce that goal. But, as I already said, I have had my military and our team look at a wide range of options.”
The president added that his administration has consulted with US allies and Congress, and that conversations have occurred “with all of the interested parties.”
Obama also echoed Kerry’s statement from earlier in the day when he promised he wouldn’t put any “boots on the ground” should the US military be ordered to strike Assad’s army.
“In no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground, that would involve a long term campaign, but we are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act that would help make sure that not only Syria but others around the world understand that the international community cares about this chemical weapons ban,” Obama said.
Earlier this week, the president said that the US intelligence community would release a report justifying any action taken by the US against Assad. The report, released Friday at the same time as Kerry’s address, concluded that the US government “assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013.”
“Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the US intelligence community can take short of confirmation,” the report reads in part. “We will continue to seek additional information to close gaps in our understanding of what took place.”
The US currently has five warships deployed outside of Syria and has the largest military on the planet at its disposal.
On Thursday, Pres. Assad said “Syria will defend itself against any aggression."